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Israeli president to Duterte: Hitler’s the devil

Israeli President Reuven Rivlin on Tuesday told President Rodrigo Duterte a thing or two about Adolf Hitler, two years after the Filipino leader compared between his deadly war on drugs and the late German dictator's annihilation of Jews.

Rivlin talked about Hitler after expressing appreciation for the Philippines' recognition of an Israeli state some 70 years ago and the country being opened to Jews escaping the Third Reich around 80 years ago.

"And we like you to know that it is not only the Jewish people but the whole free world at that time, all humanity at that time, felt that the Nazi leader, the guise of the Nazis' people, Hitler was actually representing the devil himself," Rivlin told Duterte at their meeting at the presidential compound in Jerusalem.

"He was the devil on Earth," he added.

Duterte did not respond to Rivlin's remarks.

Instead, the President acknowledged Israel for providing intelligence gadgets that were used in the government's successful military campaign against Islamic State-inspired rebels that laid siege to Marawi City last year.

"You have extended us critical assistance during the Marawi siege against the extremists. And the equipment that you lent us helped us a lot to win the war and shortened the period of fighting," Duterte said.

Duterte drew criticism in 2016 when he said that he would be "happy to slaughter" some three million drug addicts, similar to what Hitler did to around six million Jews during World War II.

The firebrand leader later apologized to the Jewish community, saying that it was not his intention to derogate the memory of Jews slaughtered during that period.

Two years after the President's controversial remarks, Duterte flew to Israel upon the invitation of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu who said on Monday that the latter's presence in his country was "deeply appreciated."

Duterte also toured Yad Vashem, Israel’s largest Holocaust memorial, as he expressed hope that the world would learn the lessons of the “horrific and benighted period of human history.”

The President's visit to the memorial was not lost on Rivlin.

"And probably you have realized yesterday the feelings when you visited the museum of Yad Vashem in Jerusalem to really feel the atmosphere and to feel the feelings of all the people that were part of this disaster that took place in the world between 1939 and 1945," Rivlin said.

Rivlin then pitched for cooperation between the Philippines and Israel on protecting their respective citizens against fundamentalism and terrorism.

Duterte timed his four-day visit for the 81st anniversary of the open doors policy of the Philippines under then President Manuel Quezon, who offered shelter to some 1,300 Jews escaping the Holocaust in Europe in 1937.

"I must say that all those people who have found safe haven in your place are very much appreciated by us," Rivlin said. —NB, GMA News